Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:29 am Post subject: Zamana Space
Prince Amyn inaugurates Seeing Through Babel exhibit at the Ismaili Centre, London
Prince Amyn visited the Ismaili Centre, London, on 4 July to officially open the Seeing Through Babel exhibition, the first public exhibit at the Centre’s newly reopened Zamana Space.
In London’s leafy South Kensington neighbourhood, situated within the lower ground floor of the Ismaili Centre, lies the Zamana Space, a multipurpose split-level expanse, facing the prominent Exhibition Road. The appropriately named cultural quarter of the UK’s capital is home to world-renowned museums, concert halls, and galleries, and plays host to arts exhibitions throughout the year.
The newest such exhibit to be installed at the Zamana Space — Seeing Through Babel — was inaugurated on 4 July by Prince Amyn at an evening reception celebrating the partnership between the Ismaili Centre, London and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
Since its opening over three decades ago, the Ismaili Centre, through its architectural design and diverse programming, has been an important feature of London’s cultural quarter. Part of the Centre’s original design, Zamana provided a space to welcome members of the public to visit and learn more about the little-known and lesser-appreciated cultural heritage and languages of the non-Western world.
During its opening ceremony in June 1985, Mawlana Hazar Imam explained the purpose of the space, saying “In a number of Islamic languages, the word Zamana, or Zaman, means ‘the age’ or ‘the epoch.’ It thus reflects the reason for my founding this gallery: to try to improve understanding in the West of the arts and cultures of the Third World, and to do this not simply in terms of historical achievements but in the present day context of their evolution.”
In an effort to shed light on previously unknown stories, concepts, and mediums of art, and in line with a growing appreciation of the arts, in particular those of the Muslim world, the Zamana Space has now reopened to the public after a hiatus. Its first public showcase, Seeing Through Babel, is a solo exhibition by the Syrian-Armenian artist Kevork Mourad.
Inspired by the Old Testament story of Babel — described by Mourad as the moment diversity was created — the artist’s three-dimensional work explores the parable using visual imagery as a means to connect people across the language divide. The six-metre high hanging sculpture took nine days to create in situ, and aims to illustrate the origin-story that lies behind human diversity, and is designed to allow visitors to walk in and around it, allowing for an experiential consideration of its themes; namely the variety and plurality of languages and culture.
Welcoming guests gathered at the reception, Prince Amyn spoke of the growth of interest and flourishing of the arts of the Muslim world over the past 25 years, noting the creation of galleries, festivals, and foundations in the UK to support such cultural endeavours, saying, “Artists have flocked to London, for its art-schools and opportunities to pursue their practices in the rich milieu of this city. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that during this time, London has in many ways become a centre for both the historic and the contemporary arts of the Islamic Muslim world. Which brings us to today, and the reopening of the Zamana Space.”
Prince Amyn went on to speak about the Aga Khan Museum, and its mission to foster greater understanding in the world today, through a diversity among and between art in its various forms.
“I am very keen that the arts should speak to each other. The arts reflect our senses, and as our senses talk to each other, so the arts should talk to each other… So as often as possible, I like to see a dialogue between the arts,” he said.
Dr Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum, highlighted the Institution’s global character, saying, “The Aga Khan Museum, even though based in Toronto, is a museum that has true international aspirations. We’re a Museum that is present here in London, also Dubai, also in the States, also across Canada.”
Creating art in public is an integral part of Kevork Mourad’s practice. In a one-of-a-kind undertaking, guests at the event were treated to a unique performance, in which visual art and acoustic music were weaved together live on stage to create a distinct fusion of artistic flair.
Guest attendee Parviz Lakha mentioned the exceptional nature of the event, in a setting befitting the occasion.
“The evening provided an ideal opportunity to explore human stories across cultures and across time. This was a very special, inspiring, and creative event that celebrated diversity and the harmony of co-existence in the most artistic and thought-provoking way,” she said.
Alongside the exhibit, Zamana is also hosting a pop-up store, featuring jewellery, textiles, ceramics, books, object d’art, and other treasures inspired by the Collections at the Aga Khan Museum.
At the close of the event, enchanted guests filed out of the Ismaili Centre, confident in the knowledge that culture unites rather than divides, and with a renewed sense of wonder about art and languages unspoken.
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The Seeing Through Babel exhibit and Aga Khan Museum pop-up store is open to the public at the Ismaili Centre’s Zamana Space until 15 August 2019, and admission is free of charge.
Kevork Mourad's six-metre high, three-dimensional graphic artwork, entitled Seeing Through Babel, is the first public exhibit to be installed at the re-opened Zamana Space, and celebrates a partnership between the Ismaili Centre, London and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
THE ISMAILI CENTRE PRESENTS A NEW EXHIBITION BY THE SYRIAN-ARMENIAN ARTIST KEVORK MOURAD
Seeing Through Babel The Ismaili Centre, London
Exhibition dates: 1 July 2019 — 15 August 2019 Open invitation to view the artwork being created: 21 — 30 June 2019, 11am–6pm Exhibition Launch/Private Press View: 1 July 2019, 6–8pm Meet the Artist Public Day: 6 July 2019
The Ismaili Centre, in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, is delighted to announce Seeing Through Babel, a solo exhibition by the Syrian-Armenian artist Kevork Mourad.
In the Old Testament story of Babel, mankind is punished for attempting to construct a tower to heaven, an act of hubris that led God to create multiple languages so as to prevent such collusions happening again. For this exhibition, Mourad explores the story of Babel, using visual imagery as a means to connect people across the language divide.
Making artworks in public is an integral part of Mourad’s practice, and it is his hope that many people will visit the gallery as he creates his six-metre hanging sculpture, Seeing Through Babel, between 21 June and 30 June. Mourad will also hold talks at 11.30am and at 2.30pm every day during this period. The work, which uses the artist’s trademark techniques – monotypes and drawing onto the surface of the work – is designed to allow visitors to walk in and around it, allowing closer consideration of its themes
On 23rd September, The Ismaili Centre, London welcomed Her Excellency, the High Commissioner of India, Ruchi Ghanashyam to inaugurate the exhibition: Delhi: Nature & Heritage in Urban Renewal, curated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).
The High Commissioner of India opened the exhibit by sharing her insights and perspectives on how the technological transformations in Nizamuddin, Delhi could be brought to the heart of London.
Ratish Nanda, CEO of the AKTC in India, spoke about the technological transformations that have occurred in Nizamuddin as a result of the pioneering work between the AKDN and the Government of India. He told the audience about how the grandeur of the monument and its adjoining garden began to deteriorate from the 19th Century where the Nila Gumbad was taken over by the railway lines and the Nizamuddin railway station was built, abutting the monument. He discussed the different projects he has been working on over the years to help restore and conserve the surrounding areas.
After five years of this extensive conservation work, the unique blue domed ‘Nila Gumbad’ has been completely restored thanks to the work of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and AKTC.
The exhibition in the Zamana Space of the Ismaili Centre displays how Delhi has become a re-emerging city in all its’ grandeur and renewed greenery, its youth empowered, neighbourhoods energised, and commerce and livelihoods resurrected. It is a story of heritage revived amidst Nature in all its vibrancy, but also of cultural regeneration, social uplift and economic opportunity.
In partnership between the High Commission of India – represented by her Excellency the High Commissioner - and the Ismaili Centre, which enables the Ismaili Muslim Community – and our friends and partners – to meet to share knowledge and enjoyment, it showcases the magnificent restoration of Humayun Tomb and Sunder Nursery in Delhi which has been developed through the use of technological advances.
We are proud to share the exhibit with the public and encourage visitors to take this journey from the Chandragupta Maurya dynasty in the 3rd Century before the common era - and bring you to the present day.
The exhibition is open to the public between 11am and 6pm, daily.
Dreams and Dystopias - East Africa at the Crossroads
Dreams and Dystopias explores East Africa at the crossroads through the lens of photographer Guillaume Bonn whose camera captures the essence of a people caught between two worlds to suggest an unreachable disappearing past, barely effable but through the echoes of its fragments and traces. The poignancy of a past to which one can never return, yet one which remains ever present in its landscape of deserted dreams.
Opening 11 October, Zamana Space at the Ismaili Centre, London
Prince Rahim inaugurates Dreams and Dystopias exhibition at the Ismaili Centre, London
On 10 October, Prince Rahim visited the Ismaili Centre, London to inaugurate the exhibition: Dreams and Dystopias, East Africa at the Crossroads, featuring photographic work by Guillaume Bonn.
The visual exhibit navigates the East African coastline through the lens of international artist Guillaume Bonn to reveal a region perennially poised at a crossroads between two worlds. The photographs capture old Africa in its unrelentingly vibrant native culture, in the midst of modern skyscrapers, new highways, and purported technical improvements, and offers an insight into its diverse geography and colonial legacy.
Mr Bonn, a lens based artist born in Madagascar and brought up in Djibouti and Kenya, spoke at the event about living in Africa and explained how he began to realise he could no longer recognise his own home. “Ten years ago I felt that wherever I was going in East Africa… things were changing quite rapidly and I felt kind of not connected to it anymore because I couldn't recognise my place anymore,” he said.
A place that was so familiar to him was becoming foreign and unrecognisable. He questioned if he would ever recognise and re-connect with the beautiful Africa he came from, and so decided to capture and document the landscape through photographs.
At the event, Mr Bonn participated in an on-stage conversation with Dr Dayo Forster, to whom he recounted the stories behind some of the photographs exhibited. Ms Forster was brought up on the coast of West Africa, has lived in Nairobi and Boston, and now resides in London. She has amassed a number of accomplishments, including publishing a novel entitled Reading the Ceiling, developing software, conducting research, launching start-up enterprises, and leading large projects.
The Ismaili Centre, London was the ideal host venue for the exhibition, according to Mr Bonn, due to the connection between his work and what the Centre represents. During the conversation, he discussed with Ms Dayo the common thread with Africa and the Ismaili community in Africa along with everything this project is about.
Exhibition partners the Royal Geographical Society, the Aga Khan Foundation, and Aga Khan University were also represented at the event. The exhibited items go hand in hand with the work that the Aga Khan Foundation does and what the photographs are trying to capture.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) promotes peace and actively seeks to empower and improve the quality of life of local communities in Africa and around the world. Just as Mr Bonn’s work seeks to preserve the legacy of the past while opening up new horizons, so too does AKDN.
The exhibition in the Zamana Space of the Ismaili Centre offers a lesson in geography and utopia, providing both reminder and reckoning on the need for post-colonial healing and social transformation, while implicitly asking: how to construct a new dream, authored by whom, and through what means.
The Zamana Space aims to foster dialogue among communities about the arts, society, and culture of the Muslim world. Dreams and Dystopias is the fourth exhibition to be held in the space since its reopening earlier this year. The Ismaili Centre, London is proud to share this exhibit with the public and encourages visitors to critically engage and imagine how and by whom a new dream for Africa will be constructed.
The exhibition is open to the public between 11 AM and 6 PM daily until 3 November 2019.
Dreams and Distopias: East Africa at the Crossroads is the fourth exhibition to be held in the Zamana Space at the Ismaili Centre, London since its reopening earlier this year. The visual exhibit navigates the East African coastline through the lens of international artist Guillaume Bonn, to reveal a region perennially poised at a crossroads between two worlds.
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